Field Day 2017

Posted: June 25, 2017 in Green Eggs & HAM

What an amazing day I had (even if I was exhausted)! I truly fell in love with amateur radio all over again! North Okaloosa Amateur Radio Club (NOARC)field day was awesome. Got to make my first contacts on HF. Hit all the way out to California and up to New York. Never a dull moment in amateur radio. Thanks to all my NOARC friends for making it a great day! Thanks to my wife Josie for being out there and supporting me. #ARRLFD

E-mail Spoofing

Posted: October 9, 2016 in Technology

E-mail spoofing is becoming more and more prevalent and targeted in recent months.  E-mail spoofing is the creation of an e-mail message with a forged sender address attempting to make the recipient believe it is from a legitimate source.  Industry experts report that the quantity of spoofed e-mails is going down but the quality of the e-mails being sent is going up.  These e-mail messages typically target employees in positions with access to sensitive information and appear to come from someone in leadership at a company.  These e-mails may include official company identifying information up to and including company logos.

Below is an example of a spoofed e-mail:

Jason (Name of an Accounting Clerk),

How are you doing?  I need you to setup an outgoing wire transfer of $18,250.22 to the account below.  We’ve got to make a deposit on our acquisition.  Please keep this quiet as many people do not yet know about this transaction.

Bank Name: First Nation B&T
Holder’s Name: James Rogers
Account Number: 123456
Routing Number: 123456

E-mail me the confirmation number when it’s done.  I’ll be here.

Thanks,
Roger (Name of the CEO)

The above names were fictitious but imagine if you received that e-mail and it looked like it was from your CEO and had your company logo.  The best advice that I can give is some you’ve heard for quite a while, if it JDLR (just don’t look right) it probably isn’t.  We all get busy and our attention gets diverted so it is easy for us to forget to apply the JDLR filter before clicking a link or taking action on something that looks legitimate.  The security of  information starts with you.  Take just a few moments when you receive a message that doesn’t quite look like a legitimate request to verify with the sender, either with a new e-mail or a phone call, that they were actually asking you to complete this action.

Walk that meeting out…

Posted: October 9, 2016 in Healthy Living

Getting up and moving around is not only a part of a basic exercise routine but it can also increase your focus and attention.  Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat. A person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking1.  Most of us sit at a desk all day so how can we incorporate walking into our job?  There are a couple of options to help you get up and moving throughout your day.

  • Replace smoke breaks with walking breaks – Take advantage of your morning and afternoon break by taking a quick walk.  You can easily fit in at least half a mile by walking 10-15 minutes, event at a slower pace.  If it’s nice outside, a quick couple of laps around the parking lot make a great escape from the indoors.  If the weather isn’t so nice, most buildings have hallways that allow for easy walking loops.
  • Try a walking meeting – Having a meeting that doesn’t require you to take notes, walk it out!  A walking meeting is great for meetings with 1-2 people or a phone conference that you could dial into from your cell phone.  (Just keep in mind if you’re discussing sensitive information, the office still may be a better choice.)

1Source: Stanford News 04/24/14

Southeastern Weather Net

Posted: July 25, 2016 in Green Eggs & HAM

I successfully checked in to my first “net” on HAM radio.  For those of you not familiar with what I’m talking about a “net” is a group meeting that all join up on a single frequency or in the case of this one it is operated on what is known as a reflector.  A good way to think about a reflector is like a phone conference bridge.  People can join in using a DSTAR capable radio either via a repeater or using a dongle, such as a DVAP, attached to your PC and then transmitting directly to it to the reflector.  Tonight was the southeastern weather net.

During the weather net the net controller, a person that “hosts” the net, introduces the purpose of the net followed by general announcements.  An opportunity is then given for anyone to announce any emergency notifications.  Following this initial process the net controller then calls for check-ins from each person state by state.  Once your state is called you are asked to key up for one second on your radio.  Since DSTAR is a digital technology when you key up it transmits your call sign automatically so the net operator can sign you in.  The operator then calls on each person that has checked in to provide their name and location and any weather updates they wish to provide.

I highly encourage you to find a net to check in to for your area to get the experience.  Nets will be critical during times of emergency communications so having the chance to utilize one prior to an actual emergency is a great thing!

For more information on DSTAR, check out my useful links page.

First Contact

Posted: July 21, 2016 in Green Eggs & HAM

Well after waiting for a little over a week for my technician license to come through the FCC, it arrived on 7/19/2016.  My radio arrived on Wednesday 7/20.  I had a late night for work so didn’t get home until around 10P and played with it until about midnight.  Drove to work the next day and back home, no contacts..yeah I tried.

Finally around 8:00P on 7/21/2016 I heard a call come out on the Milton, FL repeater so I jumped out of bed and grabbed my radio.  I was very nervous to reply back but I finally told myself I had to do it at some point.  Coolest part of the story is it ended up being the gentleman I sat by when I was taking my test!

Check out the video below and enjoy!

Many people believe that you have to make huge sacrifices to lose weight.  In some cases that’s true but, for most people, a small change in your lifestyle can make a huge impact on weight loss and healthy living.  Here are a few tips you can use to help spark your weight loss fire.

  • Cut or reduce your sugar intake – The biggest area that most of us can cut our sugar intake very easily is by cutting out the sugary sodas.  Diet drinks have come a long way in taste and many of them have almost the exact same taste as their high octane counterparts.  If you’re a Coke lover, try Coke Zero or Pepsi, give Pepsi Max a try.  You can even ease yourself off of the full calorie equivalents by mixing the two together until you’ve reached the point you’re on the no sugar version.  For cooking, try a sugar substitute such as Truvia.  Once you’ve gotten used to them, you really don’t miss the taste.
  • Do something with those smoke breaks – During lunch or one of your morning or afternoon breaks, take a walk.  Even a small increase in your physical activity can show results.
  • Hydrate – Drinking water not only helps keep our system clean but also can help boost your metabolism and decrease hunger.

Counting those calories

Posted: April 6, 2016 in Healthy Living

Calories don’t count, right?  Well actually they do!  Besides being active, one of the easiest ways to help to lose or maintain weight is by tracking your caloric intake.  Technology has really made this easy for us.  There are numerous apps for your smartphone that make tracking your caloric intake simple.

One of those apps is called “myfitnesspal.”  Myfitnesspal allows you to enter your start weight and the weight you’re trying to reach and then recommends a maximum daily caloric intake.  The app also maintains an enormous list of foods to help you track those calories.  If your smartphone is equipped with the right sensors the app will also track your steps!

So give it a try.  The app is free and what do you have to lose (except those pesky extra pounds)!

Often times you hear of people wondering exactly why so many security agents and tools are required on computer systems these days.  Threat actors have evolved their methods over the last several years to utilize more advanced intrusion methods that require multiple layers of defense, also known as “defense in depth”.  Let’s take a brief look at how a typical intrusion happens.

Most cyber-attacks begin with a phishing attempt via e-mail.  A phishing e-mail is one that attempts to get an end user to click a link or open an infected e-mail attachment.  These e-mails will normally be composed in a way that makes the reader believe that it is a legitimate e-mail message.  It is extremely important to utilize caution when clicking on links or opening attachments in e-mail messages from individuals you don’t recognize or weren’t expecting.  In most cases it only takes one person, a “patient zero” if you will, for an outbreak to begin.

Once a system is infected it will, either on its own or with instructions from a group of attackers, attempt to spread.  This can occur via several methods including stolen administrative credentials and operating system or application vulnerabilities.  Infected systems may sit quietly without attempting any malicious activity or actively being attempt to capture data, passwords, etc.  The goal of an attacker is to gather as much information as they can without getting caught.

Normal anti-virus protection isn’t enough because most malicious code is what’s known as “zero-day”, meaning that the code was generated the same day it was utilized.  Today, companies use numerous tools installed on computers to help combat these types of attacks.  Modern day security tools monitor registry and operating system file changes.  While these tools may have some impact on the performance of a workstation, they are an extremely valuable resource in being able to detect an infection and decrease response time.

At the end of the day one thing we all have to remember, being a part of any industry, is that protecting our intellectual property is ultimately protecting our customers and fellow employees.

The Cloud Shift

Posted: September 26, 2015 in Technology

If you want to talk about one of the biggest buzz phrases in technology it would definitely be “the cloud.”  These days, most people seem to feel the term ‘cloud’ is a bit nebulous.  For a little bit of a history lesson, in the earlier days of the internet we typically would refer to the internet itself as “the cloud” due to the fact most people didn’t really know what was between their computer and the website they were trying to reach (nor did you really care as long as you were able to access what you wanted to).  In network diagrams you’ll even see the internet represented as a literal cloud.

Today when you hear “the cloud” it typically refers to a place to store and/or process information somewhere other than your personal computer.  The cloud has further been defined with the addition of “public cloud” or “private cloud.”  A public cloud would be a location that is used by more than one individual or company and is managed by a third party.   A private cloud is hosted by an independent business.  You could technically think of the collection of file servers or SharePoint sites within your company as a private cloud as it is hosted on equipment we own and is operated by your company’s IT department.

Often times I get asked, “Is it safe to store information on the internet/in the cloud?”  Many of the providers of cloud hosting utilize very sophisticated security measures and your data might be even safer in the cloud as compared to just sitting on your home computer.  That being said, utilizing a strong password or a long passphrase is critical to protecting your information.  Avoid putting information on the internet that contains credit card or social security numbers and any other personally identifiable information.  The cloud is great for backing up your digital photos, music, movies, and normal day to day documents and can also allow you to free up disk space on your personal computer.

Please remember, it is may be against your company’s policy to store any company information on one of the publicly available cloud providers such as DropBox, OneDrive, etc.  Cloud storage is a great way to keep backups of the files that are most important to you and free up space on your local computer.

Security and what’s changed

Posted: May 14, 2015 in Technology

Security, security, security, we hear it all the time, but why has it moved to the forefront more than it has in the past?  I wanted to take an opportunity in this post to dive a little bit deeper into the reasons that so many countermeasures are required these days to protect systems and PC’s from attack. The threat landscape of the individuals and groups on the attack has changed quite drastically in the last 5-10 years.

In the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, the attackers were mostly what we would refer to as “script kiddies”, basically teenagers with too much time on their hands.  A lot of them were interested in learning programming code and knew they were causing damage but it wasn’t necessarily for ideological or financial motives.

In recent years we have seen a shift to the attackers being mostly rogue organizations or those looking for financial gain.  These groups or individuals are looking for data that can either threaten the national security of a country or to gain information such as credit card or social security numbers that they can either use themselves or sell.  Another difference we see here is that these groups are also usually very well-funded and often have teams of people working to gather the data that they are trying to obtain.

The technology landscape has also changed in recent years and will continue to try to adapt.  Currently numerous security tools are often used to have “defense in depth” but there is hope that the base operating systems, such as Windows, will soon be more secure in the way they function at a basic level severely limiting the methods attackers have to take over an operating system.  The security tools also are evolving to become less impactful to the end user and eventually will have little to no impact on the work that a person does on their PC.

While there are some growing pains and at times some struggles with the measures that are put in place to reduce security threats there is hope for the future of these technologies.